The first simple habit I adopted that taught me about self-love was one that I started whilst I was in my last job. The job where I had a 2 hour daily commute, often long hours and lots of deadlines. Where I was busy and tired and for a lot of the time just fed up.
This habit was making my bed every day.
I’d been reading Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project (now a bestselling book) and making your bed every day was one of her suggestions.
Yeh, I get what you’re thinking now.
Oh it’s one of those things that ‘worked’ for her, but how could that help me? (Perhaps you already make your bed every day?)
Of course, I had to shift my mindset, face my fears and take action on the steps I’d planned.
But whenever I face resistance, I remember the steps I took for this small daily action and more importantly, why.
Noticing the shift
I believed that I would be late for work if I factored in another morning activity that wasn’t ‘really necessary’ (I had a list of necessary: shower, clothes on, breakfast, clean teeth, phone in bag, keys, coat, shoes, umbrella).
I remember the internal argument: ‘If I don’t leave now, I will be REALLY late for work’ so ‘I don’t have time to make my bed’. The irony was not lost on me that the train I was on was at least 10 minutes stopped in a tunnel, so I was late for work anyway.
It’s not about time
Making your bed is likely just about straightening the pillows and duvet. Gone are the days when we have to tuck in sheets and arrange blankets and eiderdowns. We might do that wafty float of the duvet which, I grant you, takes a few seconds longer but really, the whole thing probably takes me less than a minute.
Once I admitted to myself that it wasn’t really about time, I began to notice what impact the habit had on me.
I began to notice how I felt when I came home at the end of the day and came into a room where the bed was made.
Neat. Ready. Inviting.
And I compared how I felt when I opened the door to see a messy room; covers flung back as if the inhabitant had left in a hurry, with no thought to the person returning.
Which of course, she probably hadn’t.
A screwed up duvet and pillows all crooked. A hurriedly flung towel, hanging off the end of the foot of the bed.
A little part of me sighed with disappointment.
I was determined to make my bed the next day.
And when I got home that night around 10pm, after a long day, had some dinner and went into my room….
There was my bed.
All made up, looking gorgeous, calling me, welcoming me home.
A wonderful invitation just to climb in, pull the covers around me and drift off into sleep.
You are giving to yourself
It was a little gift to myself, one that I’d prepared earlier and forgotten about, making it all the more of a surprise.
You see, all the ‘discipline' we need for blogging every week, getting around to doing the actions we said we were going to take or the household or business chores we can’t be bothered doing (taking the bins out, doing our tax returns), when we change our perception, we realise that they are all presents to ourselves. And when we approach them with love (whether anyone else benefits or not) we realise we are constantly benefitting from these wonderful presents, all from us to us.
We won’t be able to overstep procrastination until we’ve seen the effect of doing something versus not doing something in our own lives.
And we can start with something really small, something that doesn’t take too much time, that we can do every day, that has a benefit to us.
Maybe it’s taking time to eat breakfast.
Maybe it’s going for a walk around the block.
Maybe it’s preparing our lunch for work the night before.
Maybe it’s collecting your papers together in a neat pile on the side of your desk.
I’d like to invite you to try it every day for one month and see what a difference it makes.
Just one month, every day, then you don’t have to do it ever again.
Unless you want to!
And when you forget one day, forgive yourself and recommit to everyday for the rest of the month.
A change is series of little shifts
A Course in Miracles teaches that a miracle is a shift in perception. Even with this small miracle, I realised what an impact it had on my self-esteem.
I was worth this action.
For me, self love is about prioritising your own care and attention. It's learning to value your life, yourself and your desires. Not for some kind of selfish satisfaction but because it's benefit to you spills over to other people.
Why do I think this was so valuable?
Firstly, because it was a small action. Break a large project down into small, easy actions makes them more attractive to us - we can see the finish of the first action. Making the bed was easy, so I was inclined to give it a go.
Secondly I chose to see it as a gift to myself. I’d decided that it wasn’t a chore that I had to do, but that it was a gift. You get to choose how you see the task.
Thirdly, because once I had done it, I just went to work and often forgot that I had done it. The later feeling of joy came as a lovely surprise when I returned home after a long day.
The attitude that we must have, and as I’m constantly discovering, is that we cannot just take one action and then expect our dreams to materialise. We must sow seeds and seeds and seeds. And then forget about them and let them grow.
This was my first habit I practiced with a mind of self-love and my favourite.
What small daily action will you choose to give to yourself?